Taylor Phinney (United States) secured his second silver medal at this year's world championships with second place in the individual time trial but the American was left to ponder what might have been after seeing Tony Martin (Germany) beat his time by a mere five seconds.
Phinney claimed silver as part of BMC's efforts in the Valkenburg team time trial at the start of the championships but had firmly set his sights on the rainbow jersey in Wednesday's 45.7-kilometre test.
The American set out like a train, posting the fastest time at the first checkpoint. However by the second check at 29.7 kilometers, Martin had turned a four-second deficit into a 13-second advantage. Phinney hauled himself to within eight seconds of the defending champion by the 37.9-kilometre mark and with the Cauberg to come, the lead was wide open.
On the line Phinney could only watch as Martin swept in with five seconds to spare.
"This worlds was a huge opportunity for me," Phinney told Cyclingnews after his post-race press conference.
"I knew that with guys like Cancellara, Wiggins and Froome not here but to be so close to Tony, I think he put almost a minute and a half into me at the London Olympics, so to bring that gap down to just five seconds on a course that suits him better than it suits me is a big positive that I can take out of it."
At the London Olympics, Phinney came fourth in the road race before having to settle for the same position in the time trial. Despite the disappointment, he returned to his base in the US and prepared for the Worlds knowing that he had one final shot of wining an international medal.
In the run up to Valkenburg, "Martin appeared beatable" said Phinney's teammate Tejay van Garderen, who would go on to finish fourth in the time trial, but the German, who has endured a mixed season was at home on the Dutch parcours.
Phinney's development in the last 12 months has been matched by his ambitions. In last year's Worlds in Denmark he was below par but returned to form with a win in this year's Giro d'Italia prologue. A more hardened approach to training and disciple has been established.
"I'm not a U23 any more, and these opportunities don't come around every single day. Winning a world championships is career and life changing, so to be five seconds away from that is a pretty big disappointment. It's also a big motivation booster for the winter and going into next year."
"I'm getting more and more comfortable at doing these long time trials, but I still have a lot of room to grow. I'm really happy with the silver medal but to be so close is somewhat painful, knowing that in cycling for the most part, the winner is the guy that comes away with the most."
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